Two little boys in superhero pajamas huddle at the bottom of the stairs. They have been awakened in the night by their mother who is shouting, shouting. Wakened in their silent night by the sound of her fists punching holes in sheetrock. They are unable to make sense of this nightmare. All they can do is wait for her to come and coax them back into the safe dark. In time she comes.
She flees with them to her sister's house by train across Canada and they are happy.
Oh Annie, what is happening to me?
She brings them back home to the white house in upstate New York and they are happy.
Who's been sleeping in my bed?
She leaves for seacoast New Hampshire in a station wagon with failing brakes. And they are happy there, too.
Will anyone ever love me?
Because of a man who painted a portrait of her in a black velvet dress, she moves them to a farm in the country. He has dogs. They add ducks and goats and geese. And they are happy there.
How many mistakes do I get?
Finally she sends them away because she is overwhelmed with weariness. She hopes they will be happy there. With Daddy.
Then she finds her true love.
But now she has lost them.
Have I given you enough bread, enough pebbles to drop? Will you find your way back to me, or will crows eat the crumbs, rains wash the stones into anonymous rivers?
Women towing small children walk in the woods past my house to the houses of women with small children. I wave to them but they don't see me. I am invisible behind glass.
I walk out alone, notice a bright thing among wintergreen: blue teething ring worn smooth as river rock. Plastic clue that will never decompose.